Panel rejects medical marijuana bill

The medical marijuana bill is headed for the November ballot.

Barring any unusual legislative maneuvers, the citizen initiative will be decided by voters now that the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee has voted 8-0 against the measure.

The bill, L.D. 975, adds to the number of conditions for which a physician can prescribe marijuana, creates a voluntary identification card for those who are qualified, and allows the creation of nonprofit dispensaries, which would make access to marijuana easier for those who have a doctor’s permission.

Advocates say it will help those who are sick get safe and legal access to marijuana, which could be prescribed for conditions such as cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and Crohn’s disease.

Opponents, which included public health officials and law enforcement, say marijuana has powerful side effects and that dispensaries that opened in other states have attracted noise, traffic and crime to those areas.